Archive for September, 2006

“Survivor,” revised edition

Saturday, September 30th, 2006

CBS has capitulated and merged the teams of “Survivor: Cook Island.” Associated Press writer David Bauder says “All the hubbub about the “Survivor” ethnic experiment turned out to be pretty worthless,” but has he seen the Nielsen ratings or talked to the advertisers who refused to sponsor a program that exploited incipient American racism? Fortunately, there were enough Americans and corporations with the good sense and decency to force CBS to change the format after only two episodes.

I never watched Survivor and never intend to. If couch potatoes want to see other people struggling to “survive” they ought to join the Army and go to Iraq. There is nothing contrived about war and, when you get kicked off the program, you come home in an aluminum coffin.

9/11 lies live on

Tuesday, September 26th, 2006

As the anniversary loomed, ABC released a mock documentary claiming that Clinton blew a chance to get bin Laden. The ABC fiction misrepresented available intelligence, and placed the Afghan resistance (Northern Alliance) leader in close proximity to bin Laden, when he was actually hundreds of miles away.

Former President Clinton took a FNC hack to the whipping post over the weekend, after being asked why he didn’t do more to “get bin Laden.” Clinton’s reasoned reply was barely reported, in favor of claiming Clinton “lost it.” Meanwhile, over on another cable channel this weekend, Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice, who was National Security Advisor on 9/11, was asked how one goes about asking her for a date. This, while American and Iraqi bodies pile up — and bin Laden is still free.

Now Rice has said: “The notion somehow for eight months the Bush administration sat there and didn’t do that is just flatly false – and I think the 9/11 commission understood that,” and “We were not left a comprehensive strategy to fight al-Qaida.”

Contrast that with these excerpts from the 9/11 Commission hearings, transcripts of which are available for free download. (more…)

Remaking Iraq in our own image

Monday, September 18th, 2006

Mutanabi Street in Baghdad is a place where I might once have felt at home. It’s lined with booksellers and stationery shops, a place for readers and writers. Now, thanks to sectarian violence, it’s a ghost town. Mutanabi Street is a microcosm of American culture: Closed, empty and afraid.

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Support our troops?

Thursday, September 14th, 2006

Bush likes to use “supporting our troop” as an excuse to get more of them killed. Despite knowing almost a year in advance that he planned to invade Iraq (the plans were drawn up before 9/11, which only served as an excuse, not a reason), he sent thousands of soldiers to war with outdated, inferior body armor. Lack of planning let Iraqi resistance fighters grab hundreds of tons of high explosives and ordnance. Soldiers scrambled to find sheetmetal with which to fabricate armor plating to protect them from improvised explosive devices (IEDs) made from the “lost” materiel.

Only a drunk could believe Bush’s favorite excuse for getting more soldiers killed: “If we withdraw from Iraq now, our soldiers will have died in vain.” This is the twisted logic of embezzlers and serial killers. Doing a crime once can cause normal people to suffer pangs of conscience. But if it’s okay to do it again and again, it must have been okay to do it the first time. Repeated offenses justify previous offenses. In the minds of narcissistic sociopaths, anyway.

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“This is like prewar Iraq all over again”

Thursday, September 14th, 2006

President Bush continues to push the U.S. toward an unnecessary war with Iran, using manufactured “intelligence” to lie to the American people. Bush has said he favors negotiation, but expects Iran to give in to all his demands before we sit down to negotiate. Previous attempts by Iran to open diplomatic communications, including a personal letter to Bush from Iran’s president, have been brushed aside.

At the behest of the White House, the House Intelligence Committee prepared a report on Iran’s nuclear capabilities, which even American intelligence officials admit contains at least a dozen unsupportable claims. Now the United Nations International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) has publicly blasted the report, in a letter to the committee chairman. The letter does not mince words, accusing the report of containing “erroneous, misleading and unsubstantiated statements.” For example, the House committee report claims Iran is currently producing “weapons-grade uranium.” Weapons-grade uranium must be enriched to 90-percent purity; Under IAEA supervision, Iran has enriched uranium only to 3.5 percent purity, suitable only for use in power-generating reactors.

In addition to overstating and misrepresenting Iran’s capabilities, the committee report openly accuses IAEA of distorting its own reports in favor of Iran. IAEA called those claims “outrageous and dishonest.” The House committee report was written by a cohort of U.N. Ambassador John Bolton, and approved by Director of National Intelligence John D. Negroponte, who, in a just world would be in prison for crimes against humanity.

This isn’t the first time the Bush Regime has clashed with IAEA. During the run-up to the Iraq War, IAEA exposed as forgeries documents Bush claimed proved Iraq was embarked on a nuclear-weapons program, despite warnings from friendly foreign intelligence agencies that the documents were suspect. The Bush Regime unsuccessfully tried to smear IAEA Director Mohammed AlBaradei, who was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for his efforts to prevent the unnecessary, misrepresented and mishandled Bush war against Iraq.

Iran has more than once expressed willingness to negotiate with the United States, but will not end its uranium-enrichment program as a condition of those negotiations. Worth noting is that it did not recommence enrichment until after Bush refused its earlier attempt at re-establishing diplomatic ties: In 2003, the Swiss, who act as go-betweens for the U.S. and Iran, forwarded such a letter from Iran to our State Department. The U.S.’s response was to criticize the Swiss ambassador to Tehran for getting involved in “our” problems! Yet Bush never tires of saying Iran poses a threat to the entire world. A former nuclear inspector put it succinctly: “This is like prewar Iraq all over again. You have an Iranian nuclear threat that is spun up, using bad information that’s cherry-picked and a report that trashes the inspectors.”

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U.S. Official: “Test military weapons on our own civilians”

Wednesday, September 13th, 2006

In several posts I have warned that our government will do to us what it does abroad. At various times I’ve been accused of everything of being everything from shrill or cynical to communist. Thank you, Air Force Secretary Michael Wynne, for proving my point.

If you think you still live in a democracy, that you can safely protest the actions of your government, this news should set you straight:

WASHINGTON (AP) — Nonlethal weapons such as high-power microwave devices should be used on American citizens in crowd-control situations before being used on the battlefield, the Air Force secretary said Tuesday.

The object is basically public relations. (more…)

The “Immigration Debate” is only racism in new robes

Tuesday, September 12th, 2006

I’ve always been impressed by the facility with which bigots and other assorted hate-mongers present their “evidence.” The so-called “immigration crisis” is no exception. Five years and billions of dollars after 9/11, a few politicians have discovered millions of undocumented aliens living in the United States, and decided we have border-control problems. Why now, and why is this “problem” suddenly so imperiling?

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Let’s say Bush is right

Monday, September 11th, 2006

Bush turned his 9/11 commemorative address into another pitch for staying the course in Iraq. His thesis is that Iraq, as it now stands, would deteriorate further without the presence of American troops. Two points must be dug out of this analysis, and examined to see if simply staying the course is an adequate response.

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Five years later, five wishes

Sunday, September 10th, 2006

Five years after 9/11, the media is full of memories and re-enactments. This being an important election year, much discussion is taking place about what we did in response, and how it’s turning out. It’s too easy to cast blame on the Bush Administration for all its failures and bad intentions, and I’ve done plenty of that already. So I decided to write a little about what I wish had happenened instead.
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Capitalism’s self-parody — a sign the end is near?

Friday, September 8th, 2006

As an avowed anti-capitalist I oppose class and racial discrimination as exploitative. When CBS announced its new “Survivor Cook Island” series, pitting “races” against one another (Hispanics are not a race), I was appalled, but I figured CBS was only desperate to keep the series going. Today I learned that a Colombian television station has launched a Survivor clone with three competing teams selected by “class.” The producers named the three teams “privileged,” “searchers” and “screwed.”

The program is being produced in the Dominican Republic, presumably because class warfare in Colombia has reached such violent heights the participants’ lives would be endangered were it made in their native country.

In the U.S. and Colombia, capitalism has resorted to exploiting exploitation. Venezuela, Colombia’s neighbor to the west, is trying to undo centuries of exploitation through redistribution of the nation’s wealth. Guess which country’s government the U.S. is trying to sabotage?

Maybe things aren’t as bad as I thought, though. When authors run out of ideas they often turn to self-parody, though perhaps not intentionally. Capitalism has been fresh out of new ideas for 150 years. South America is turning away from capitalism and the U.S. Unfortunately for us, South America is forging stronger ties with communist China. Of course, so are we, as China now holds most of our astronomical foreign debt. That capitalism is resorting to self-parody may be a sign that it knows its end is near. Capitalism may be in its death throes, but it will not go quietly or peacefully. Iraq and Lebanon may not be the end, but only the beginning of the end, as capitalism spends itself into insolvency and irrelevance in an orgy of blood.